minstrel: Re: Need some critique

Heather Rose Jones hrjones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Fri Jan 10 11:49:25 PST 1997

On Fri, 10 Jan 1997, J. Michael Shew wrote:

> 	I have been writing a little piece on commission for another SCA
> member.  I would like someone to critique it for me.  Feel free:

I like it -- very nice either as spoken poetry or sung. There are a few
places where the established meter falters a little, which would tend to
be noticable only in a recited performance, so if it's meant only to be
sung then my concern will be less applicable.

> 	Bridgit
> The hum of the harpstrings   The hush of the trees
> The raging of fire   The rythum of toil
> The sob of a child    The song of the wind
> The pace of the plow   As it turns up the soil

The meter works for me here because I can do "fire" and "child" as either
one or two syllables as required. In general, the optionality of the
line-final unstressed syllable works perfectly fine for me.

> 	(Chorus)
> These are the cycles we see in the meadow
> The flower that withers to rise up in spring

Both "rise" and "up" would normally get a strong stress here in ordinary
speech, and "up" needs to be unstressed for the meter. Would "to rise in
the spring" work as well for you?

> Winter to summer and summer to winter
> We pray to the goddess we see them again
> The clamour of children   The keening of widows
> The slumber of babies   The smelting of ore
> The sowing of seed    The snow on the mountains

My ear really wants another light syllable after "seed". It breaks the
grammatical pattern somewhat, but have you considered "The sowing of seed
And the snow on the mountains"?

> The mead from the honey    The magic of lore
> (Chorus)
> There in the distance   High on the downs
> The circle of hedges   That hallows her fane
> She who is watching   the mother, the maker
> Bright as the sun    and Brigit her name

Again, my ear wants another light syllable on one side or other of the
caesura in the first and fourth lines. Something along the lines of "There
in the distance  High up on the downs" and "Bright as the sunlight  and
Brigit her name" -- just as an example of what I mean (not necessarily
specific suggestions for changes).

> (chorus)
> There in the cities   In the cathedrals
> They sing for the Christ   The god who was slain

Ditto. I want to hear something like:
	There in the cities   And in the cathedrals
	They sing for the Christ  For the god who was slain

> But here in the meadow   We mind her fire

This one's a bit more noticable since the expected syllable falls in the
middle of the second half. But I expect "mind" is chosed to alliterate
with "meadow" so I can't just suggest "We tend to her fire". 

> And wait for the time    When she triumphs again
> (chours)
> 	So.  How is it?

Very nice! (I don't comment on this level of detail unless the basic
structure is sound to begin with!)

Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn

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